Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 19:37:49 -0500 (EST)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LXP] Linux Pipeline - 03-08-2005 - Props To The Mac Daddy Linux Pipeline Newsletter | Props To The Mac Daddy | 03.08.2005
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Tuesday, March 8, 2005

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: Props To The Mac Daddy
  • Top Linux News
        - Most CA Software At Risk, Patches Available
        - EU Council Sides With Microsoft On Patent Bill
        - SCO Lawsuits Hit Yet Another Delay
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - The Tech That Makes Google Tick
        - Open-Source Quality: Job One, Or Job None?
        - Does The Press Make Too Much Of Security Warnings?
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: Is Laptop Linux Ready For Prime Time?
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: Props To The Mac Daddy: Jef Raskin, 1943-2005

    Yesterday, I was surprised to discover that Jef Raskin, the single most important person behind the original Apple Macintosh, died on Feb. 26. Raskin either invented or popularized many of the innovations that made the Mac such an important and historic product.

    Many of the design concepts behind today's desktop operating systems--icons, click-and-drag, WYSIWYG editing, long file names, even the idea of the desktop itself--are part of Raskin's legacy. For all I know, if Microsoft's magpies hadn't paid Raskin and Apple the compliment of ripping off their design principles en masse for Windows, the command line interface might still be the dominant paradigm. (I know that prospect actually excites some of you.)

    Even though he left Apple in 1982, the company's products still reflect his belief that technology should adapt to its users, and not the other way around. When one considers the design and usability horrors that technology manufacturers continue to visit upon us, regularly and with disturbing enthusiasm, it's clear just how rare and unique people like Raskin are in this business. It's especially unfortunate that he checked out before he could finish The Humane Environment, an open-source implementation of the design principles in his book The Humane Interface, which is now required reading in many computer science departments.

    In other news, the EU Council decided to ignore many of its member state governments, several thousand business owners and open-source developers, and the EU Parliament by keeping a proposal to legalize software patents alive and healthy. One point that I haven't seen in much of the coverage to date is the fact that the EU bureaucrat most responsible for this decision is an Irish politico who was a notorious Microsoft flunky even before he dedicated himself to selling out Europe's software industry. In fact, the Irish government itself now has a considerable stake in keeping Microsoft happy, comfortable, and satisfied at almost any cost, which is why it's one of the few European countries that actually seems to relish this prospect. It's an interesting, and incredibly seedy, tale--perhaps it deserves a more detailed telling at some point this week.

    I'm running several interesting opinion pieces this week, including one from Desktop Pipeline editor Barbara Krasnoff questioning the value of what seems like a constant stream of stories about software security bugs, malware exploits, hacker attacks, and other types of suspiciously popular bad news. The question, as Barbara sees it, is whether the computer press provides a real public service when it devotes so many inches to the issue or whether it simply wants to exploit a high-profile, and thus potentially profitable, topic.

    This is a question every computer journalist should ponder, especially when so many of these stories--or at least the headlines--fail to discriminate between obscure, hard to exploit bugs (in other words, most of them) and the ones that pose a genuine threat (name two of these in the past 12 months, and you deserve a prize). Even though I'm aware of this problem, I still find myself running stories that may not always clarify just how serious or credible a given security issue really is. This is less of a problem on a site like Linux Pipeline, where I'd rather make readers aware of a potential security problem so they can decide for themselves what to do about it, than it would be at a news organization that deals with less experienced (and more impressionable) technology users. Nevertheless, I can see a time coming when we may have to rethink when, how, and why we cover software security threats.

    I also have another contribution on tap from columnist Rob Enderle, who heard your feedback on his last piece--something he could have done from the surface of Venus, judging from the email I saw. He's got a few loose ends to tie up on the question of Firefox, open-source code, and quality assurance; once again, I think he makes some valid points that deserve your attention, even if you're unlikely to agree with the conclusions he reaches.

    Finally, a gloat note: I expect a brand new, top of the line Linux laptop computer to arrive at my door any minute now, courtesy of Linux Certified. Yes indeed, it's good to be the editor of Linux Pipeline right now. Unfortunately, I only get to keep it for a month, but while I have it I can find out for myself whether Linux is a legitimate option for business laptop users. This is a question on which many of you are divided, judging from the latest poll I've been running, and it will be interesting to get some first-hand answers.

    Matthew McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

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    Top Linux News

    Most CA Software At Risk, Patches Available
    Computer Associates has patched a bug in the licensing software used in virtually all its Linux, Unix, Macintosh, and Windows titles.

    EU Council Sides With Microsoft On Patent Bill
    The European Union Council keeps a controversial software patent bill on track, handing a victory to major patent holders such as Microsoft in spite of widespread opposition among European business owners and software developers.

    SCO Lawsuits Hit Yet Another Delay
    SCO Group's legal wrangling over open-source intellectual property continues to drag on, as one judge grants a delay in the SCO-HP suit and another schedules a date to consider scheduling a date for the SCO-IBM trial.

    RealPlayer Users Advised To Patch Security Bugs
    Critical security flaws in RealNetworks' RealPlayer could allow hackers to hijack Linux, Mac, and Windows systems, security firms warn.

    Mozilla Foundation Opens Chinese Affiliate
    The Mozilla Foundation has moved into the Chinese market, establishing a non-profit organization in Beijing and launching a Web site to develop and promote its open-source products.

    More-Secure Linux Still Needs To Win Users
    The National Security Agency played a leading role developing SELinux, a hardened version of the open-source OS, but the product's complexity is likely to limit its popularity.

    JBoss Launches Support Network
    The open-source app server vendor is providing a set of subscription services to help customers manage and maintain their JBoss implementations.

    Eight New Bugs Found In Mozilla Products
    Fixes for all of the bugs, which security firm Secunia rates collectively as 'moderately critical,' are now available.

    Editor's Picks

    The Tech That Makes Google Tick
    A Google engineering executive explains some of the ways the company turns thousands of ordinary Linux servers into one extraordinary search engine.

    Open-Source Quality: Job One, Or Job None?
    When software quality control is everyone's responsibility, it's more likely to become no one's responsibility, which is a problem for products such as Firefox, says Rob Enderle.

    Does The Press Make Too Much Of Security Warnings?
    By publishing a blizzard of security bulletins and patches, are we providing useful information for users, or are there other, less civic-minded motives for this coverage?

    Desktop Pipeline: Apple Tries To Eat Our Words
    Here's another interesting column from Desktop Pipeline editor Barbara Krasnoff, taking Apple to task for taking legal action against three bloggers--strange behavior for a company that claims to "Think Different."

    Linux Clues: Burn, Baby, Burn!
    Don't know an ISO from a distro? We'll show you how to turn downloaded files into a Linux installation CD and how to give your new system the boot--disk, that is.

    J2EE: Good News, Bad News
    The good news: J2EE only has one problem. The bad news: Java is the problem.

    The Real Mac Daddy: Jef Raskin, 1943-2005
    Jef Raskin, the creator of the first Macintosh computer, died Feb. 26, not long after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I'm a bit disappointed and surprised that it took me--a hard-core news junkie--more than a week to discover that Raskin had checked out

    Voting Booth: Is Laptop Linux Ready For Prime Time?

    Cast Your Vote Now!
    A few months ago, I asked Linux Pipeline readers to share their experiences with Linux-based laptop computers. The verdict was mixed: Many of you had great things to say about your Linux laptops, but some of you were far from happy.

    This time, we'd like to hear from anyone with an opinion, whether you're a laptop Linux user, know someone who is, or simply stay current on the latest Linux hardware trends: Is Linux on the laptop ready for mainstream, everyday business use? Let us know, cast your vote!

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